The three mileage charts depicted here are all from an 1815 Cincinnati almanac. That's over 200 years ago. The Almanac contains a number of these, albeit most of its mileage charts are from Cincinnati north and east. Three of them however, go into Kentucky, one each to Louisville, Lexington, and Mason County. A cursory look at them reveals quickly that most of us have never heard of these places.
And remember: where you think a road goes today has little relation to where it may have gone 200 years ago.
Cincinnati to Washington
The directions to Washington, Kentucky – note they don’t go through Maysville – are confusing because they’re routing you through Ohio. The Columbia area of Cincinnati is still known as such. It’s on the river, in the vicinity of where the Columbia Parkway intersects with Delta Avenue and is one of the oldest settled areas of Cincinnati. In 1815, Columbia was not a Cincinnati neighborhood, but a separate town.
Little Miami is easy. It’s at the mouth of the Little Miami River, at what is now Lunken airport, and in 1815 likely occupying part of the area we know as Lunken. Further up river would have been Stout, at the Hamilton-Clermont Count line, where US 52 intersects with Nine Mile Road. There is no longer any vestige of a town in the area.
Continuing up the river, Big Indian is better known today as Point Pleasant, Ohio, birthplace of President U. S. Grant. Big Indian Creek still empties into the Ohio River at the location. Our directions are leaving the river at this point and heading up Big Indian Creek.
We’re headed for Buchanan’s stockade. We know that William Buchanan in 1796 built “a stockade about a fine spring by Indian Creek,” and that it was “near the Calvary Church in Washington Township.” That church still stands today, and includes a graveyard with William Buchanan’s grave. It stands on Ohio Route 756, just east of Ohio Route 743, and is, just as our almanac tells us, 4 miles from the confluence of the Ohio River and Big Indian Creek at Point Pleasant.
Continuing east on route 756 we find ourselves today in Felicity, but in 1815, we’d intersect with the Denhamstown Road, exactly six miles from the church. The Rev. John Denham, his brother Obed, and their extended families left Virginia, and later left Kentucky, to remove themselves from an environment that tolerated slavery. They established the town we know today as Bethel, and called it Plainfield, but everyone else in town called it Denhamsville or Denhamstown. Denhamstown Road goes south from Bethel to the river, roughly following today’s Route 133, south through Felicity, and meets the Ohio River at the mouth of Bullskin Creek, at a community once known as Rural.
Most likely we’re taking Boude’s Ferry. Immediately across from Augusta, at the ferry landing, is an area known as Boude’s Ferry (or sometimes as one word, Boudesferry). It's the same site where the Augusta ferry goes to this day. We know Judge John Boude arrived from Pennsylvania in 1795, and by 1817 had built what may be the first brick house in the area. On March 23, 1802, Brown County licensed Boude “to keep a ferry from his house on the Ohio.”
From Augusta, it’s a straight, as Kentucky roads go, line inland on the old road to Minerva and on to Washington. The AA Highway has obliterated the old road west of Minerva. Washington was the county seat, and a bigger town than Maysville in those days.
Cincinnati to Lexington
The second chart, from Cincinnati to Lexington, starts by going to the foot of the Dry Ridge. They’re talking about the geological formation, not the town in Grant County. And if it takes 9 miles to get there, they’re going out what roughly is now Highway 17, before starting up the hill to what would become Independence. Or they could be very roughly following the path of today's CSX railroad, and go out what you know as Dixie Highway to Turkeyfoot, and on to Banklick Road. Either way, they arrive at the home of Abner Gaines, still standing just north of Walton. Gaines Crossroad was an early name for Walton.
We unsure of Barns. There is a Barnes Road, and a Barns Cemetery, between Williamstown and Dry Ridge. But 11 miles south of Gaines places us well north of the town of Dry Ridge, not south. If we can assume the mileage then is roughly what it is now – a risk – Barns is roughly where Sherman is today. That’s also consistent with locating Theobald. We believe Theobald is Dry Ridge. The first settler in Dry Ridge was James Theobald, and the mileage is consistent with Theobald’s being Dry Ridge.
Arnold’s is Williamstown. Gouge is an earlier name for the community now known as Mason, south of Williamstown, but north of Corinth.
Ireland is the last stop on top of the Dry Ridge, in Scott County. There is to this day an old, old stone home on the west side of US 25 believed to be an old inn run by an Ireland family at one time. Going down the hill brings you to the foot of the Dry Ridge, water, the crossing of Eagle Creek, and on to Georgetown and Lexington.
Cincinnati to Louisville.
Was there a road from Covington to Big Bone? Well, not as we understand what a road is, but there was a buffalo trace. Huge herds of Buffalo, seeking food, and salt, traversed Kentucky long ago, and wherever they went, they left a trail, easily followed by other fauna, as well as subsequent human settlers. Such a trail ran from the mouth of the Licking River to Big Bone, and that's how the Almanac is directing you: over the buffalo trace. Curiously, the Alamac's directions to St. Louis take you thru Burlington, and then to Rising Sun, so the road into Boone County must have been well-established.
Our utter speculation is that from Big Bone you go up what was roughly the west end of Cleek Lane, no longer in existence, and wander somehow toward the junction of what is now US 42 and US 127, where the giant bend in the Ohio river is. US 127 follows Sugar Creek up to Johnson Road, laid out very early by Warsaw founder Robert Johnson, as a route from his Georgetown home to the Ohio River. Boone Road, an old buffalo trace followed by Daniel Boone, takes us from Johnson Road over to Sparta.
Sanders’ Mill is Sparta. It's confusing, and the quick conclusion is that Sanders’ Mill is in the town of Sanders, but Eagle Valley was chock full of people named Sanders, and the town of Sanders went thru a variety of names (Dudley, Bramlette, Rislerville, Dixie, and Liberty Station) in the 80 years after this chart was published, before they settled on the name Sanders in 1884. The mileage works for Sparta, and we know there is a really early Act of the Kentucky Legislature establishing a ferry near Sparta, to get south of Eagle Creek. Sparta, it should be noted, originated on the Owen County side of the creek, and migrated over the years to the Gallatin side, a move dictated by floods and the railroad.
After Sanders’ Mill, it’s clear. Simpson’s Ferry crossed the Kentucky River, a mile or so downstream from Owen County’s Perry Park, near the mouth of the Twinn's Creeks. Twinn Creeks was the site of one of the very earliest churches in Northern Kentucky, established in 1801, later moving up the hill to New Liberty, and becoming the New Liberty Baptist Church. The Crossing at Simpson's allows easy access to Drennon Springs, another salt lick, virtually across the Kentucky River from the Twinns.
Henry Court House is New Castle, and Middletown has long since become engulfed by greater metropolitan Louisville.
Please note we're open to being corrected on almost any of this. Some of it we know for sure, other we're making educated and semi-educated guesses.
the three mileage charts are from Robert Stubbs’ The Ohio Almanac for the Year of Our Lord 1815, being the Third After Bissextile or Leap-Year, and After the Fourth of July, the Fourteenth Year of American Independence.